Braving threats of retaliation from Washington, India and 128 countries voted in favour of the resolution in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that called upon the US to withdraw its decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But officials now say that it could have been a ploy by the US to scale down its budgetary commitments to the UN.The Committee on Contributions at the UN uses estimates of each member state’s gross national product (GNP) and a number of adjustments, including data for external debt and for low per capita incomes for their financial commitments to the regular and peace-keeping budget of the world body. The percentage shares range from a minimum of 0.001% to a maximum of 22%, and a maximum of 0.01% for those nations designated as “least developed countries.The US is the biggest economy in the world with the highest share of 22%, followed by Japan with 9.68% and China (7.921%). According to the assessment made for the years 2016-18, India has to contribute 0.737% to the UN regular budget, placing it at 24th position in the list of highest contributors. Officials here attributed the US’s intransigence coupled with unparalleled threatening communications to countries to a ploy to scale down its commitments to the UN and its various programmes particularly the peace-keeping efforts. The US contributions to the UN regular budget in 2017 stood at $611 million. It is also committed to providing $2 billion annually to peacekeeping, and hundreds of millions more to programs, including the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program. The US had already conveyed to cut $150 million next year to peace-keeping budget.At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump asserted, “Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot. We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars and nobody knows what they’re doing.” Expressing “deep regret” over recent decisions over the status of Jerusalem, the resolution did not specifically mention the US, but states that the final status of the city will be “resolved through negotiations in line with relevant United Nations resolutions”.Officials here agree that the US communications to the smaller nations intimidating them to vote in its favour were highly inappropriate and the only explanation could be the US attempting to run away from its financial commitments. The resolution, which was tabled by Turkey and Yemen and supported by a slew of Muslim and non-aligned movement countries, was approved by 128 votes – two-thirds of the 193-member UNGA. While 35 countries abstained, only nine countries voted against the resolution – the US, Israel, Honduras, Guatemala, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Togo and Micronesia. Twenty-one countries did not vote at all.While officials here stated that India’s position on Palestine was unchanged, the lack of reiteration of East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital over past many months had raised questions. The ambassadors of Arab countries posted to Delhi meeting with the minister of state for external affairs, M.J. Akbar to discuss the issue. Arab countries were also apprehensive of India’s stand, apprehending that Modi government may change its policy in the wake of hosting Israeli PM early next year in New Delhi. Diplomats, who attended the meeting said there was no explicit demand made by the Arab envoys to take a stronger position, but they only reminded Akbar to convey the PM the 2016 Manama Declaration, which India signed with Arab countries, recognising East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital and also called for the sanctity of UNSC resolutions.India’s positionAccording to the assessment made for the years 2016-18 by the United Nations, India has to contribute 0.737% to the UN regular budget, placing it at 24th position.
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